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December 04, 1987 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-12-04
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You would have to be

'Nuts' to like this one

By Scott Collins
Occasionally movie titles serve as
inspired little self-advertisements.
That's the case with Martin Ritt's
Nuts , which will surely be punned
upon in many a critic's blurb of
approval. I can already picture Gene
Shalit, or some similarly
unimaginative facsimile,
deadpanning into the camera, "You'd
have to be nuts to miss this!" It's
true that the colloquial title does
compel you to see it, or at least find
out what it's all about. If only the
remaining 90 minutes lived up to
,the promise of the film's opening
Barbra Streisand plays Claudia
Faith Draper, a young (!) woman
who has renounced the ways of her
banal, well-to-do parents (Karl
Malden and Maureen Stapleton,
whose perpetual quivering lip here
makes her look like a palsy victim)
and becomes a very busy Manhattan
call girl. When one of her johns
attacks her, she defends herself and
winds up in jail with a manslaughter
At the court hearing that opens
the film, Claudia reveals nothing but
contemptuous wrath for everybody
who surrounds her. She resents the
suggestion that she's insane, yet
nevertheless ignores her parents,
screams at the judge, and punches
out her court-appointed attorney.
Enter Aaron Levinsky (Richard
Dreyfuss), who, as the newly
assigned counsel, must figure out
this women's apparently irrational
behavior and convince the court that

she is competent to stand trial for
the man laughter charge. The rest of
the film chronicles Aaron and
Claudia's struggle against assembly-
line law.
The legal system, along with the
insensitivesociety it serves, are the
nasty, hulking villains in Nuts.
Every skeptical utterance ever
whimpered about the law is served
up in short order: Claudia valiantly
(and stridently) fights courts in
which the judges are stern but
vaguely benevolent, procedure is
scrupulously followed, and victims
are victimized even further. Tom
Topor's screenplay (based on his
play of the same name) suggests that
you have to shout pretty loud to be
heard above the hum of the
automatons who run things at City
While law might test anyone's
sanity, it only aggravated Claudia's
neurosis. The producers hope the
cause of it will be kept secret by
writers like myself, and while I'll
honor that request (although my
better xtidgment tells me not to), I
will s;y that the milk-carton
sensationalism of Claudia's
relationship with her parents adds an
embarrassingly cheap dimension to
an already mediocre story. Topor's
grist has been ground into finer flour
in thesmills of network television
But plc,. and theme are irrelevant
anyway, because Nuts has more to
do with Inn star system than the
insanity defense. Dreyfuss mostly
mouses about (Ritt's tight close-up
during the film's major epiphany

Continued from Page 14
that Lucius was far from the tyrant
the older Dailyites had presented to
me. And I found out that Lucius'
real rule was that you had to play
fair. If your copy was down early,
and you had made a few mistakes,
they'd get cleaned.up, If you'd had a
lousy week and were shoving down
great batches of late copy filled with
typos, tough luck. If you paid
attention, and lightened Lou's load
when thirty-page supplements were
being thrown together, he'd return
the favor the next week.
It also became clear to me that
Lucius was a friend. We are nothing
alike. Lucius is a World War II
veteran. He likes golf, and good
whiskey (to the point of claiming
that there's "nothing a little good
whiskey wouldn't cure.") I'm a
borderline conscientious objector.
Golf bores me to tears. The
strongest drink I willingly consume
is probably a watermelon shooter.
Our friendship is based upon
agreement to disagree on many
But we agree on an important
issue. Like me, Lou cares about a
lot of the kids who stop by the
Daily for a year or two. He likes the
good ones, and asks me about those

I knew now that they're gone. He,
cares about the fights we fight, and
even the gossip that Dailyites in lust
generate. I have watched him quietly
press beer money into an editor in
chief's hand before our end-of the-
year party. I have listened to him
talk about the day he will leave us
all to begin his "life of crime," and
wondered what tomorrow's Dailyites
will do without him.
All of us who have been here for
a decent stretch have grown, thanks
to Lou. We have left behind the
quaking incompetence which
characterized our first forays into
honest-to-gosh editing. We have
learned to get the job done when it
should be done, to do our best, and
when our best isn't good enough, to
make sure that the person we're
asking for favors owes us one, ,or
that we inspire confidence that we
will repay the favor. And those of us
who at first survived in spite of
Lucius, and now succeed in concert
with him, share a bond.
One first meets the tyrant "Lucius
the Lion" because Daily staffers have
always had trouble meeting
deadlines. The pressure of attending
classes, attempting to have a social
life, and working for the paper is
intense, and something usually has
to give, and sometimes it's the
Daily. But for nearly twenty years

Lucius Doyle has been the good
deadline. Firm enough to inspire,
panic, but fair enough to ensure
Lucius recently told me that one
of our current staffers is among the
best, if not the best at his job of all
the staffers Lou's seen in all of his
years at the Daily. "Why don't you
tell him?" I asked. "Maybe when
he's getting ready to leave," Lou
replied, "don't want him to get
Once again, Lucius and I are
going to have to agree to disagree. I
think people should be told what a
good job they're doing before they
get away. And if that makes Lucius
a little cocky, so be it.
This is John Logie's last column
for Weekend magazine, but he'll
probably do something else for the
Daily next term. He just can't help
Continued from Page 14
D: Are Judeo-Christian religions
addressing the real problems of our
R: I think they're addressing it as
much as any other institution
around. I mean if you compare what
universities are doing, what the
government is doing. They're not

addressing it adequately but compared
to any other major institution,
they're probably doing more.
D: Do you agree with the theory
that Enlightenment thinkers wiped
out the Judeo-Christian value
system without replacing it...that
there is now no common morality?
R; I don't think that there ever
was common morality in society.
So to say that there was some
utopian time when everyone shared
morals is just not to be bothering to
know much history. But the idea
that religion is privatized...well,
Robert Bellah ought to just watch
the television sometimes instead of
reading books. (laughs) I mean, you
don't shape grand theories about
American society without bothering
to pay attention to the data all
around you.
D: Is your opinion that churches
have not been progressive enough in
the areas of homosexuality and
reproductive rights?
R: Well, it's a major conflict
area. It's not as if churches have one
position and the secular world
another. There are essentially
fundamentally different ethics within
the Christian community itself
about certain things. Negative views
about attitudes for reproductive
rights and homosexuality have
played a major role in failure to
secure equal rights for gay people in

Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss star in 'Nuts'. ts not as good as it looks.
Prince does it all i his latest

See FILM, Page 17

By John Logie
Sign '0' The Times, Prince's
third movie, opens on what appears
to be a damp Parisian street,
drenched in neon and smoke. Why?
Who knows? After tumbling onto
his royal butt with last year's
melodramatic Under the Cherry
Moon, advance word on Sign was
that Prince was returning to his
fort6, concert footage.
Concert footage, after all, had
propped up Purple Rain' s thin plot
whenever Morris Day and the Time
were offscreen. The dearth of concert
footage made Cherry Moon all the
more unbearable. To be fair, there is
a lot of concert footage in Prince's
latest, but the purple pocket rocket
just couldn't leave the (melo)drama
The audience is forced to contend
with a layer of "plot" which consists
of a love triangle involving Prince,
the scantily clad Cat, and a tubby
band member who wears a hat
fashioned from an ex-rodent. Dia-
logue includes exchanges like,"Yes!"
"No." "No?" "Yes." And when the
movie moves into its proper set, a
concert hall in Holland, two-thirds of
the choreography is designed to tell
the story. But the story has very
little to do with the material, which
was drawn almost exclusively from

Prince's recent double-album.
How many movies is it going to
take for Prince to realize that he isn't
a director or a screenwriter? The man
is a very jifted songwriter, lyricist,
choreographer, and performer, but
when it comes to words without
music, Prince stumbles. Moreover,
since Prince is onstage for eighty-
five percent of this film, and can't be
giving his full attention to directing
chores, wouldn't it have made sense
to hire Jonathan Demme?
And beyond the obvious ques-
tions, there's the flat-out weird stuff.
Why, for example does Cat appear
dressed precisely as Prince was
dressed on the cover of the "If I Was
Your Girlfriend" 45. Why does
Prince insist that the audience see
every female performer in nipple-
revealing spandex except the rotund
pianist Boni Boyer (who, incident-
ally, can sing the spandex off of Cat,
Shiela E., and Sheena Easton!) This
is especially disturbing in the case of
Shiela E., who is a much better
drummer than Prince, and unlike
Cat, is not the plot's lust-object.
Prince has never been sby about
revealing 47' of his 5'3", and he
also makes sure that his concubines'
charms are made apparent. But he
stacks the deck. No other man has
ever been objectified in Prince's
movies except Morris Day, who was
not depicted as having even a

smidgen of Prince's "smoldering"
sexuality. The result is the disturb-
ing notion that in Prince's world,
every lithe woman is there for his
consumption, and all other men are
denied access, because they don't
possess royal badness.
. Despite the muddle, Sign man-
ages to deliver several moments
which confirm Prince's reputation as
one of the most (and perhaps the
most) exciting live acts in the
business. Pouting and stomping
across the stage, Prince stakes a
claim as the legitimate Godchild of
Soul. He has a knack for digging
into himself and throwing every-
thing into a song. And if the knee-
drops and mike-stand routines don't
entertain, counting the inches on
Prince's heels, and speculating about
the true nature of Prince's undies
(which appear to be constructed, at
least in part, of gold chain) will.
This is the kind of movie that
critics often label, "for fans only,"
but that doesn't really tell the whole
story. All but the most blindly rabid
Prince fans will be disapppointed, as
Prince seems to be capable of so
much more. A more precise label
would be, "for passing fans of Prince
who have never seen what the man
is capable of." But Sign is a poor
substitute for the tour which it
seems designed to replace. 0

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Guess what? Prince doesn't look like this anymore


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